Corbin Carroll, Ketel Marte and Gabriel Moreno homered against Corbin Burnes, helping Arizona erase an early three-run deficit and sending the Diamondbacks to a 6-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 of their NL Wild Card Series on Tuesday night.
The rally put Arizona in a prime position to advance. Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Wednesday, and the Diamondbacks have ace Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly lined up after rookie Brandon Pfaadt lasted just 2 2/3 innings in the opener.
Arizona, which clinched an NL wild card in the final days of the season, had been 0-14 in postseason games when trailing by at least three runs.
Carroll and Marte homered on back-to-back pitches in the third, and Moreno put the Diamondbacks ahead in the fourth. Evan Longoria protected Arizona’s one-run lead in the fifth by robbing Tyrone Taylor of a bases-loaded hit and turning it into an inning-ending double play. Christian Walker provided some insurance with a two-run double off Devin Williams in the ninth.
The NL Central champion Brewers left the bases loaded in the first and third, and they failed to score after loading the bases with nobody out in the fifth. Arizona’s Joe Mantiply, Miguel Castro, Ryne Nelson, Ryan Thompson, Kevin Ginkel and Paul Sewald combined for 6 1/3 innings of shutout relief.
Milwaukee appeared to have a starting pitch advantage for Game 1 by virtue of clinching its playoff berth early enough to set up its postseason rotation. It didn’t quite work out that way.
Gallen pitched Friday and Kelly went on Saturday, so the Diamondbacks opted against using them on short rest and instead started Pfaadt. Although Pfaadt yielded three runs and seven hits before departing in the third, Burnes also struggled.
The three-time All-Star and 2021 Cy Young Award winner allowed four runs through the first four innings and left with the Brewers trailing 4-3 after he walked the only two batters he faced in the fifth.
Milwaukee opened a 3-0 lead on Carlos Santana’s RBI single in the first and Tyrone Taylor’s two-run homer in the second.
It seemed as if that might be plenty for Burnes, who retired seven of Arizona’s first eight batters.
Then the momentum changed in a hurry.
Carroll followed Geraldo Perdomo’s one-out single in the third with a 444-foot drive into the second deck of the stands in right-center. On Burnes’ next pitch, Marte sent a cutter over the right-field wall.
After the Brewers left the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, Moreno homered for the first time since Sept. 2. Moreno’s 425-foot shot came on a 2-2 slider.
The Diamondbacks barely survived a shaky relief performance from Nelson, who typically starts rather than working out of the bullpen.
Sal Frelick and Willy Adames opened the sixth with back-to-back singles. Nelson then walked Josh Donaldson to load the bases for Brice Turang.
It was initially ruled that Nelson’s first pitch to Turang hit him around the foot, which would have brought in the tying run. But the Diamondbacks challenged the call, and it was overturned on a replay review.
Turang struck out, and Thompson got the final two outs with a huge assist from Longoria. Taylor’s screaming liner was grabbed by Longoria, who threw from his knees to double Adames off second.
Arizona outfielder Jake McCarthy was removed from the team’s Wild Card Series roster shortly before the start of Game 1 due to a right oblique strain. Utilityman Jace Peterson replaced McCarthy on the roster.
Under MLB postseason rules, McCarthy wouldn’t be able to play for the Diamondbacks until the NL Championship Series, if they get that far.
Gallen (17-9, 3.47 ERA) is pitching for Arizona in Game 2. Freddy Peralta (12-10, 3.86 ERA) starts for Milwaukee.